Montgomery County sets real estate tax rate, approves budget in back-and-forth meeting

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 12:16 AM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - “I just don’t see how you can pull any more out of the schools, but I guess you can,” said Mary Biggs, vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

For the last two months, setting the real estate tax rate has been the last piece of the puzzle for the Montgomery County 2023-2024 budget. The current rate was 89 cents per $100 of assessed value. The board used a neutral revenue tax rate to bring it down to 70 cents, then proposed it to be 73 cents.

There have been mixed reviews about the proposal from citizens and supervisors, with Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski, Supervisor Todd King, Supervisor Darrell Sheppard and Chair Sherri Blevins supporting that it stay at 70 cents.

“You wanna argue about dollars and cents for these citizens that are having to pay these additional taxes, along with all the other expenses that have gone up. I’m just saying as a county we can live at 70 cents and we should,” said Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski.

The worries from Vice Chair Biggs, Supervisor April DeMotts and Supervisor Sara Bohn came because not having the rate at 73 cents would mean almost $1.3 million in additional funding would also be taken away from Montgomery County Public Schools in the 2023-2024 budget.

A 4-3 vote set the rate at 70 cents, with Biggs, DeMotts and Bohn voting against.

MCPS requested $6.1 million in additional funding in the budget, if the 73-cent tax rate had passed, just over $4 million would have been given. Now the additional funding number sits around $2.7 million in the budget.

“I’m appalled that we’re going to take this money from children, I’m just appalled,” said DeMotts.

Supervisor Todd King made it clear the vote for the 70-cent rate had nothing to do with not supporting MCPS.

“To sit here and say we don’t respect the schools and we don’t support the schools, that’s wrong. This is my 10th year and we have always given schools money,” said King.

The supervisors also approved the 2023-2024 $236,357,597 budget in a 4-3 vote.